Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Welcome to the fantastic Gary Henson!

First, thanks to Vanessa for hosting this blog post. Vanessa and the Seasonal Short Story Group members have been consistent supporters. I humbly and truly appreciate their friendship.

Gary HensonMy absolute pleasure, Gary – Welcome and thank you for writing a post for my humble blog. It has been an absolute pleasure to publish your work and you truly are a great asset for the group, with your constant promotion and support. Okay, back to Gary…

This post is about finishing. Finishing is harder, by far, than starting. Yeah, it seems like an obvious statement up front, but please don’t leave me yet! ;-)

Starting is hard, sure, and I don't minimize its place in any endeavor. To start writing, be it a poem, a short story or an epic novel series, takes guts and confidence. I think you’re lucky if you’re one of those writers that can just ignore your doubts and go for it, mindfully dismissing your fears. Yeah, that’s so not me.

If you’ve finished a project it’s easier, because you know you can do it. You know what’s ahead. You’re ready to begin a new adventure. You can look forward to stretching the boundaries of your imagination. It’s damn exciting to look at a blank sheet of paper, envision your dreams sketched upon it and KNOW that you’ve done this before.

In contrast, to finish a story takes stern will and dogged determination. It takes sacrifices of time, energy and soul.

"just chill out..."
When you want to watch a movie or just chill out on the patio with a glass of Texas Red and some nachos, you’ll have to force yourself to write a chapter first. Moreover, by the time you’ve written that chapter, it will probably be too late for the treats.

I don’t like missing out on my nachos or leisure time. I look forward to patio time all day during the Texas spring, summer and fall. Winter evenings are best spent indoors, in front of the fireplace, with a nice big mug of hot chocolate and peppermint schnapps. Hmm. But, I digress.

Finishing means that you care more about this story and these characters than you do your personal life. You will spend endless hours exploring plot arc possibilities. You’ll consider when and how to introduce new characters. Is this the right place to bring in a sidekick? Maybe I should do some foreshadowing earlier, let the reader get a taste of what’s to come. Does this paragraph push the story forward or is it just sparkling fluff?

Finishing means a daily grind of rewrite, rewrite and more rewrite. Then your paranoid Muse pipes up, whispering questions in your ear, fueling self-doubt. “Am I rewriting too much? Should I leave this passage alone? Did I give the hero a good enough reason to go on this quest? Will the reader understand what I mean here or is it too esoteric? Will I ever finish this chapter?” Shut up, you soulless, nagging harpy!

‘Finishing’ means more than anything else, not giving up. It’s not looking for an excuse to stop here and ‘put it aside for awhile’. It’s grabbing a bagel and a cup of coffee and sitting your butt back in the chair, instead of hitting the ‘close’ key for the night.

‘Finishing’ is everything that happens after the euphoria of the opening moments of your piece ebbs. After the moment when you realize this story is going to be very, very hard to get right. Sigh. ‘Honey, could you make me another hot chocolate?’

If you have more than a couple of ‘to be continued’ stories on your hard drive, you know how difficult it can be to finish. I have a few myself, and I’m working overtime to get them off the bit-box and into a publisher. They do no one any good sitting there rotting away, bit by bit.

‘Finishing’ is what makes you a writer, an honest to God ‘author’.

Go finish that story.

Wise words from the wonderful Gary! Now, hang in there… read on and find out about him J

My day job is a software developer for the healthcare industry. I’ve been twiddling bits since 1980, doing everything from printer and video drivers for Hitachi to full-blown enterprise suites. I’ve been studying classical and Texas boogie guitar (ZZ Top rules!) and creating retro games for the mobile market to stay sane.

Currently I have three books published on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords and other venues.

‘Genome’ has been reviewed as ‘a creative mix of romance, technology and ghost story’. I wish I had thought of that synopsis, it fits ‘Genome’ to a T. ‘Genome’ was originally a screenplay that gathered a dusty nest of rejection/ignored slips before I decided to set it free as an ePub novel. It features a favorite character concept of mine, ‘PIP’, an AI or Artificial Intelligence. The ‘Geek Squad’ and PIP evolved from my decades as a software developer and AI hobbyist.

GENOME links - AmazonBarnes and Noble Smashwords 

Arlo and Jake Enlist
‘Arlo and Jake’ is a series of humorous Sci-Fi adventures whose concepts and characters are loosely based on my time as a submariner in the US Nuclear Submarine force. Jake is an ex-nuke white hat (enlisted man) and retired software developer. Arlo is Jake’s pet chameleon. My favorite review of the first book, ‘Arlo and Jake Enlist’: ‘Jake and Arlo are my new favorite characters in science fiction. This book was full of unique spins on science fiction and just plain fun.’ 

ARLO AND JAKE ENLIST LINKS - AmazonBarnes and Noble

I have read & enjoyed this wacky SciFi adveture - my review is on the Amazon UK site...

4.0 out of 5 stars Sci Fi Madness 30 Aug 2013

"I have never read a book like this before and so it took me a while to get to it. Even then, it was written more for (I think) a male audience, but it did make me smile a lot - It was an insight into the male mind.

The story itself is well crafted, highly imaginative, and it reminded me of Star Trek and Star Wars with a James Bond Twist - there were a lot of perfect women around! Personally, what was missing was a villain - maybe we'll meet one in the second book?

Follow the wacky adventures of Arlo & Jake Into space & battles - escape reality!"

For the second book, ‘Arlo and Jake Galactic Boot Camp’: 

‘The serial novel is making a comeback and I'm thrilled. Gary Henson has created a fun and engaging storyline featuring some great characters. Jake, a lovable old curmudgeon who is conscripted into a galactic navy and restored to youthful vigor, along with his telepathic sidekick, Arlo, a chameleon (how does Henson come up with this stuff?) had me laughing aloud.’

ARLO AND JAKE: GALACTIC BOOT CAMP links AmazonBarnes and Noble 

I also have short stories in several of Vanessa’s Charity Anthologies.

Adult Anthologies www.shortstoriesgroup.blogspot.com 
Anthologies for All www.kids4books.blogspot.com 

(Psst... guess what, =>=>=> OUT OF DARKNESS is ***FREE*** until this Friday 28th FEB!)

I’m currently working on Book 3 of the ‘Arlo and Jake’ series and a collection of short story mysteries based on Pip and the Geek Squad characters in ‘Genome’.

I blog about ePub and writing in general at ‘www.garyalanhenson.blogspot.com’. I have fun creating Texas haikus (loosely) and prose that I share on my blog as well.

Thank you so much for joining us, Gary - see you around on the WWW... :)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Say hello to the lovely Susan Buchanan

My Photo
Today, I welcome Susan Buchanan or Sooz, as she prefers, to my blog.

I have known Sooz for quite a while and respect her a LOT for her writing and they way she markets herself via social media. Luckily, she agreed to be interviewed by me... so ENJOY! :) 

1) Firstly, how did your first novel come about? Was it planned or did it just happen?

No, it was planned. It would be very difficult for a novel with 12 main characters to ‘just come about’! I have, however, learned to plan more succinctly since the first novel, but with so many characters, I had several pages of Word with timelines and character info, otherwise I would definitely have tripped myself up!

2) I have read “Sign of the Times” and I enjoyed it a lot - this was my review, 4 stars. What do you think? Is it fair?

Sign of the Times
“This book is almost like a collection of short stories that are linked from one to the next by a certain character. It is imaginative, original and captivating... It made me read on! The author has used her wealth of knowledge to create a range of characters and personalities that could symbolise "the sign of the times".

At times, I felt the characters were too stereotypical and I did wonder if people are actually like that (I obviously lead a sheltered life). But, I loved her use of languages, and cultures, to define certain aspects of the characters' nationality.

In the end, the plot lines fit together to form the masterpiece puzzle, and for me, it was ended on a very satisfactory note.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this story, and would recommend if you enjoy books with a range of characters, and movies such as ‘Love Actually’.” May, 2013

I think 4 stars is fair and yes, although I am not a fan of short stories particularly, I guess Sign of the Times could be viewed sort of as such, but not entirely, as each of the character chapters is not self-contained, since all the threads come together in the final two chapters. 

I do, however, like and agree with the analogy that they are linked from one chapter to the next by a certain character.  And it’s certainly true that the characters are diverse, but then, I did do a lot of research into the traits of the various zodiac signs.

Regarding stereotypical characters, the only ones who I can say were stereotypical and intentionally so - I think I even wrote that in the novel - were the Italians. I’d be curious to know what led you to write ‘I obviously lead a sheltered life’ as that suggests that some characters were outlandish rather than stereotypical!

Language and exposing different cultures comes naturally, given my background of extensive travelling and since I’m a linguist. I particularly like your comparison to Love Actually, as it’s one of my favourite films and I must tell you you’re not the first person to  have said that, which can only be a good thing.

3) Do you think relationships define people? For example, I was never the type to be in and out of relationships, but some of my friends had a different one each week. I admit that I wonder what it is like to be like that, which is why your book got me curious - I have been with my husband since I was 19!

Not that I’m a guru or anything! I kind of feel like an expert witness being put on the stand in a court of Law here! (Oops... I did study Law at uni! Ha ha) I don’t think relationships define people.  I think you can be a different person, behave differently and lead a different life, depending on if you are in a relationship and with whom.  Not everyone bed-hops in Sign of the Times, but temptation is put in the path of some - a few succumb, others resist. And even those who cheat tend to be in long-term relationships, but circumstances have led them to go off the rails, except for Lucy. She’s just bad!

4) What do you enjoy more from writing? Escapism or creativity burst? Why? 

Ooh, that’s a hard one. I suppose I enjoy escapism most in reading. I love when I come up with the idea for a book and then think what characters I need and what their dilemmas have to be, their character traits and then I start to paint them. Yes, creativity burst I suppose. I love when I come up with new details, scenes, life-changing events for characters.

5) What about the editing process? Fun or hardship? 

Sometimes bleurgh, sometimes enthralling. I love when you refine your work, or you haven’t looked at it for a while and can be more objective, as you've put some distance between it and yourself. I was like that with What If, as I hadn't written any of it for 7 months. I tend to put XXX for words that I know I will probably want to change, or where I am at a loss for words at the time of writing, so when I edit, I get to spend more time and choose the exact word I need and that is very satisfying.

6) Do you think social media is important? If so, how do you prioritise your time? 

Yes and badly! The thing is with a young baby, you can do social media when she’s awake for a few minutes at a time, but you can’t sit down and write.  So I tend to do more social media, but not enough writing - very bad! I’ve been doing a Valentine’s promotion since 1st February - it will run for just over three weeks and that has involved a lot of social media interaction, Twitter, Facebook and a lot of blogging. I’m getting results, but sometimes you have to wonder if they are on a par with the effort put in!! (I know what you're saying...)

7) What is the most important thing you have learnt, as an author, since you published your first book?

Write the next book, and the one after that

8) Can you give any tips on how to use a blog successfully? I have followed and seen your blog posts and I think they are great! :0)

Thanks for the compliment! I’m definitely no expert on this, but vary your topics, don’t use your blog only as an outlet for your writing, chop and change things every so often. Before I had baby Antonia I had got into the routine of interviewing an author every second Friday and having a book review every alternate Friday. I haven’t been able to keep up with that, so have since welcomed cover reveals, excerpts and other author related posts from my peers on the blog.

I’ve also written quite a lot of posts about books in general, which have been really well received. I always seem to have new blog followers after those go out. I used to blog every day about my writing, but I was spending more time blogging and less time writing. I also use the blog to publicise events and promotions I have coming up. As I said February has been labour-intensive. The next event will be a 2nd birthday party for Sign of the Times mid-March.  I also think it’s invaluable to build your relationships with other bloggers and reviewers. And, most of all, in my case, I just let my personality shine through. I am, what e we term in Scotland, a blether!

9) What is your current project? Are you giving yourself deadlines, or are you just seeing where it goes?

My fourth novel, What If should be released in the summer. It’s the story of a mid-forties man, a bit of a lad, who wakes up one day and realises his life isn’t enough anymore. He has also had a rather startling epiphany. This leads him to trawl through his relationship history and his life in general and he constantly asks himself What if? It’s all about his choices in the past and how they affect his future.
I did give myself a deadline, well, three actually. The first two are very scary and probably highly unachievable, given all of my commitments this year. However, the third I should manage!

10) Can you name a children’s and adult author you admire and why? What is the best book they have written and why did you enjoy it?

Children’s author - Julia Donaldson. I love her books and have bought them all for my nephews. I can’t see past The Gruffalo - it was so different and I loved that the big scary gruffalo was scared by the mouse’s shadow! I have to be sneaky here, though, and add A A Milne, too, as shockingly I had never read Winnie the Pooh  - I am reading it at the moment as we are watching Winnie the Pooh movies a lot, as baby Antonia loves them. I love how A A Milne gets Tigger down from the tree by turning the page 90 degrees. Love the whole way it’s narrated. 

(Check out this Gruffalo made by a parent, Jane Watson... read about it)

Adult author -hmm, harder, Maeve Binchy inspired me, years ago. Now I suppose I admire writers like Carlos Ruiz Zafón and his vivid depiction of Barcelona in his The Shadow of the Wind series. He makes his characters come alive and I devour his books.

11) What do you prefer to read – eBook, paper or either? Why?

I read both and it depends on the circumstances. I tend to read 3 books at a time, one in ebook (currently Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding - the new Bridget Jones novel), a paperback - Sophie Hannah’s psychological thriller The Carrier, and Emily Barr’s The Sisterhood, also in paperback. 

The reason I need three books is because I like reading my Kindle when I am having my breakfast - no need to try and hold down the book with heavy items like paperweights on either side! Also if I go out to restaurants and am waiting on friends to arrive, I read my Kindle then, and of course if I am on a train, in the dental surgery waiting area, etc, the Kindle fits in my bag easily. 

Paperbacks are for reading whilst drinking coffee in the morning, if I am not working already and for last thing at night when I am in bed. And the reason for the second paperback, in this case, Emily Barr’s, is because I need a book to read in the bath. I only take charity shop books in the bath, in case I get them wet!

12) And the twelfth question (12 signs after all)… where can we find you? Blogs, twitter, etc…

Thanks for having me!

An absolute pleasure... :)

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Carol Hedges joins me for a chat...

***Welcome to my blog and thank you for letting me interview you***

My Photo
I met you on twitter over a year ago and have been entertained by your tweets and blog posts ever since. And you love cake - need I say more... :0) 

You also welcomed me on to your Pink sofa months ago… thank you!

I have read “Jigsaw Pieces” and was intrigued by the concept.

I have to admit that, even though I enjoyed it, it was not a book I would normally read, mainly because I could personally not relate to the main character. However, I can see why this is a book many would enjoy, as put so well by one of your latest reviewers…

5 stars – Review via Amazon by Lyndell Davey

Product Details
“Not until I was half way through this book did I realise it was classified as Young Adult Fiction. Well, I'm not exactly a "young adult" but nonetheless it had me mesmerised. To me it is simply a novel for any age which happens to have a teenager as its heroine and more than deserves a place alongside similar classics such as `Stand by Me' and `To Kill a Mockingbird'. Carol Hedges is a teacher herself and her command of the subject shines through in the painful authenticity of the urban comprehensive in which much of the action takes place - right down to the smell of sweaty trainers in the sports block - and of the savage world of teenagers seen through the eyes of Annie - an outsider by virtue not only of being Norwegian but also of being more mature, more sensitive, more thoughtful and more perceptive than most of her peers.

Annie is by no means an adult narrator in teenage clothes, however; she is every inch a teenager - touchy, confrontational, worried about her figure, contemptuous of the herd yet secretly wishing, at times, that she could be part of it. The story moves along at a cracking pace, carried not only by Annie's ebullient personality and dry, comical observations of the world around her but by the intriguing and seemingly unconnected threads in the plot - the murky circumstances surrounding the suicide of one of her classmates, her passion for a long dead First World War poet and her friendship with a traumatised centenarian war veteran eking out his final years in a retirement home.

These threads are drawn deftly together in the profound and deeply moving conclusion, binding the centuries and proving that the beautiful and the ugly in human nature remain unchanged.

Do not be put off by the Young Adult label - this is a novel for everyone and a stunning novel it is too.”

Do you get a kick out of this kind of reader feedback? How do you deal with reviews that are critical?

I have a funny policy about reviews - developed when I wrote the Spy Girl books, and a rival author got readers to post negative comments (yes, it happens). So, I will check them and summarily read what is said...and if it is one where the reviewer has clearly taken time to write it, and has thought carefully about the book and their reaction to it, I thank back. Other than that, I regard reviews as being for future readers... and at the end of the day, good or bad, they are still only one person's opinion.

Where do you find inspiration from for your characters? Which character is your favourite, and why?

Characters come from real life, in my head, a book I may have read...it all goes into a melting pot. I think one of the characters I liked was Annie in Jigsaw Pieces - she was partly based on a Year 11 girl I taught, but a lot upon me!!

What is the most satisfying thing about being a teacher? Do you try to “teach” readers via your writing?

Sadly, I no longer teach - I am 63 and too old for the classroom.... but I used to encourage students to write as recreation, beyond the dreaded syllabus.

Do you think social media is important? Your blog is fantastic. If so, how do you prioritise your time?

You CANNOT be a successful Indie writer now without using social media! I have been blogging/using Facebook and Twitter for 2 years and I love it - not for promoting my book, but for the chat and fun. The blog, which I started after a frustratingly long period of not being published, is part of this. I post a new blog every Saturday morning at 8.am. I usually start the next blog on the Sunday after. It's good practice at meeting deadlines - another thing all writers have to deal with. Sadly, I spend far too much time on Twitter/Facebook!!

I know you have had an agent. Can you explain the process of getting one, and what it was like?

I got an agent via a fellow author's recommendation - but I had already had 3 books published before I did. Initially, it seemed a great idea...in hindsight, it wasn't. My agent only placed one book...and we parted on bad terms due to her criticism of my writing and my feeling that I was not being prioritized. It should be remembered that agents also take 10% of your royalties....so this needs to be factored into a decisions to get one. And you are not free to submit to any publisher on your own behalf.

What is the most important thing you have learnt, as an author, since you published your first book?

That I can write. Most of the time, I sit and stare at the screen feeling that I am writing dross. I have to remind myself that 12 books on, I can do it. I really can!

Which of your books did you enjoy writing the most, and why?

Diamonds & Dust : A Victorian Murder MysteryI loved writing the latest book: Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian MurderMystery ... it was based on my favourite period in history, and I had fun referencing and playing with the contemporary novels. I had never written a full length adult novel before, so relished the challenge.

Do you have a favourite author or genre? Did anyone inspire you to start writing?

I love crime fiction... (what a surprise!) whether it is Ian Rankin, the Scandi authors, or Conan Doyle. I think I was inspired to write by an inspirational English teacher at Secondary school, who encouraged me. Isn't that often the route?

Where we can find out about you and buy your books?



Thanks for joining me...

Vanessa :) xx

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A warm welcome to the lovely Terry Tyler

***Welcome to my blog, Terry - thank you for letting me interview you***

When I joined Twitter, you were one of the first authors I came across and I loved the way you came across. Straight-talking, friendly, and approachable. Your blogs portray the same image. So, what are you really like?

The lovely Terry Tyler...
Hi, Vanessa – first of all, many thanks for inviting me to your blog!

Now…what am I really like??!  A very hard question, because you never see yourself as others see you.  I suspect I might be a little too ‘tell it like it is’ at times, but I find sociological/behavioural change and trends endlessly interesting, so I’m constantly observing things I want to say a load of stuff about!  I’m learning a bit more diplomacy, though.  

As for friendly and approachable?  I’m probably more sociable online than in real life; I used to always be out and about and knew loads of people, but these days I prefer my own company or just that of my husband, much of the time.  Which is lucky; writing necessitates that mostly it’s just me and my laptop!

I have read “You Wish” and I thought it was so clever - this was my review. What do you think? Is it fair?

Product Details5 stars: YOU WISH via Amazon

“I downloaded this book months ago for free, and have only just got round to reading it since I collect a lot of free eBooks via Twitter!

When I started reading it I had no idea where it was going and (to be honest) did not think it was my kind of read at all... BUT... Was I wrong?!

As soon as the story unravelled, I became completely engrossed and hooked, reading it at every chance (which during the summer holidays with the kids is hard going).

The premise of the story is that the main character, Ruth, owns a magic "wishing stone" that makes bad things happen... I will not say more because I do not want to give a spoiler!

As we find out more about Ruth, her past, and the people she has befriended I could visualise all the characters so clearly that I began to feel their pain, and at times even gasped out loud (in my head screaming... "No Way...").

I have never read a book like this... It talks about drugs, relationships, the ache of teenage years and disappointments. All discussed with so much ease that it made the issues normal (as they should be). I have never understood the need to smoke and do drugs, but this book helped me understand why some people choose to go down that road and how easily it can happen.

I highly recommend this book for those wishing to go down memory lane and relive 80's moments (I did love Dynasty!). Saying this, it is definitely a book for adults by the content and use of language.

I could easily see this book as a film... It is extremely clever and original! Can't believe I got it for free... I hope this review helped :)”

It’s a wonderful review, thank you so much – again, I’m too close to the book to be able to view it objectively, but it seems to sum it up, and a lot of people have said how unusual it is – I suppose it is, really!  I’ve long been fascinated by the extent to which we shape our own lives, little realising that everything single thing we do affects the path we travel down.  This is a subject reflected in my book The Other Side, too – which follows a similar plot to ‘Sliding Doors’, and shows how one woman’s life could have turned out so many different ways.  Ah – just realised that I’ve gone ‘off topic’ – I’ll shut up!

I have to ask this… Are your books a reflection of your ‘real’ life? If so, your life has been much more “interesting” than mine!

Some bits are, yes; not always things that have happened to me, though.  I’ve lived in lots of different situations, had loads of jobs, many different social circles; I’m sure my life has not been more interesting than yours, though I’m guessing by the inverted commas you’ve put around “interesting” that you actually mean “varied and a little bit too colourful at times”!!  If this is the case, it’s got everything to do with not having children, I think.  When you have fewer responsibilities, more opportunities appear, though this isn’t always necessarily a good thing.

What or who inspires you to write?

Oh, it’s usually just a case of me thinking ‘I’d like to write a novel about such-and-such’, and then I play around with it in my head for a while until it starts to require notes!  Some things are ideas that brew for a while (like ‘The Other Side’ and ‘You Wish’); other times from a single event; the idea for ‘Dream On’ came from a conversation in a pub.

Which character you have created to date is your favourite, and why?

That’s a hard one!  I loved writing about Sarah in ‘You Wish’ – I tend to like writing about the ‘baddies’ more than the ‘goodies’!!   But as for the ones I like, I think my favourite character is in ‘Dream On’ and ‘Full Circle’ – Dave, my head-in-the-clouds wannabe rock star.  I am very fond of him!  

I often enjoy writing the supporting cast as much – people like ludicrous ‘artiste’ Glynis in ‘Dream On’ and ghastly author Harriet in ‘Full Circle’ – you can sometimes have more fun with secondaries as you don’t have to evolve a whole character. 

Do you get a kick out of reader feedback? How do you deal with reviews that are critical?

Oh, yes!  There is no better compliment than your work having made enough impression on someone for them to want to review it.

I have some regular readers who contact me on Twitter to say that they’ve just enjoyed such and such a book of mine, and, honestly, it’s just THE best thing!  I know I’d write even if no-one read them (I have a few unpublished novels which have only been read by my sister and a couple of friends), but I love to think of a person I don’t know, sitting down with their Kindle, miles and miles away, reading the words I wrote in my sitting room about the characters I made up while I was lying in the bath, or something - I have reviews from as far away as Alaska, Las Vegas and Australia! I still find it a bit hard to get my head round, actually.

As for criticism – I take it on board.  I can usually see their point.  Thankfully, there hasn’t been much, but you’re never going to appeal to anyone, and those who’ve reviewed critically have as much right to express their opinion as anyone else. 

Do you think social media is important? If so, how do you prioritise your time?

Not only important but vital for a self-published writer, most of the time.  Prioritising my time – it depends.  If I’m totally absorbed writing a novel I will just have a quick go on Twitter for about 15 minutes a couple of times a day, answering messages, retweeting and putting my own book tweets out.  In that short time between novels I catch up more, do more retweets on Twitter, read more blog posts, do interviews like these, look up people who’ve followed me, that sort of thing.  I used Facebook mostly for non-book interaction, though I do have a fairly active author page.  Some days when I have a lot of blog posts to do (either for my own blogs, or guest ones for other people), I will have a whole day dedicated to getting them all done. 

What is the most important thing you have learnt, as an author, since you published your first book?

That’s a hard one.  Stacks of things.  I always knew it was going to take over my life, so that’s not something I’ve learned.  Hmm!  I think possibly to write as a reader, first and foremost – by which I mean being aware of what the reader needs to keep turning the pages.  It’s subconscious, by which I mean that I don’t think, right, I’d better inject a little bit of suspense here, and leave a cliff-hanger there – I think pacing a novel correctly is something that comes automatically, with time, as you write more and more.  In one review for ‘Dream On’, a book blogger said that what she liked about it was that there was absolutely nothing, not one single sentence, that wasn’t vital to the plot – so I suppose I’ve got better at editing, too, which is, again, what writing as a reader is about.

Do you think books are timeless, or do you think some fads disappear?

Yep, this vampire was
a popular one...
Timeless, mostly.  Contemporary novels of any period are still good to read if they’re written well in the first place.  Obviously there are fads, yes; in the 1980s it was the rags to riches epic, or the family saga, and in the 90s the emergence of chick lit.  In recent years we’ve seen lad lit, vampires etc, erotica - good examples of these are still just as enjoyable to read now as when they were published.  The ones that don’t stand up to time tend to be the bandwagon passengers.

What is the best book you have read and why did you enjoy it?

What, the best book ever?  That’s too hard!

I can name a few favourites – ‘Cashelmara’ by Susan Howatch, ‘Something In Disguise’ by Elizabeth Jane Howard, ‘The Beach’ by Alex Garner, ‘Chances’ by Jackie Collins, ‘A Handful of Dust’ by Evelyn Waugh, ‘All The Days of My Life’ by Hilary Bailey, the first 2 Game of Thrones books, ‘The Absolutist’ by John Boyne, ‘The Job’ by Douglas Kennedy, ‘The House At Old Vine’ by Norah Lofts – okay, okay, I’ll stop!

As for why - I dunno!  Why does anyone like any book?

Product Details
I suppose one could analyse it, but I’m not a literary critic so I don’t suppose it would be very interesting to read – “well, y’know, it was really interesting and the characters were, y’know, really true to life, like.”   I mean, I could say that I love ‘A Handful of Dust’ because I love reading about the aristocracy of the 1930s, or because of the curious and poignant ending, but the actual reason why that book sticks in my mind as one of my favourites is because it resonated with something in my brain.  

The same goes for pieces of music or art you like, doesn’t it?  It’s a bit like asking someone why they love someone; you can list their sterling qualities but that doesn’t tell you why they love them.

Did you ever try to find an agent? Do you think their role has been dulled of late?

As for their role in the publishing world today, I can’t say because I don’t know enough about the current state of the traditional publishing industry to comment.  

As for my experience: in the last 20 years, I have made about 15 submissions, and have five times got past the initial step – ie, having the sample approved and being asked for the full manuscript.  

One of these was ‘You Wish’, though I haven’t submitted any of the other books I have on Amazon.  Trying again may be one of my projects this year. 

Where we can find out about you and buy your books?

Amazon UK page:



Writers’ blog on UK Arts Directory:

Facebook page:


Many thanks for your interest, V!  There’s no need to see me out, you stay in the warm….!

I will, especially in this weather
Vanessa :) xx